When I graduated and became a licensed and certified pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP) last summer, I had no idea that my first year working as a PNP would involve working during a pandemic. COVID-19 has resulted in many changes that have affected each of us in different ways. Schools have closed their doors and moved classes online, graduations are being canceled/postponed, and healthcare professionals throughout the world have had to adjust the ways they care for their patients.
I work as a PNP in outpatient pediatric neurosurgery at a children’s hospital in California. Here are a few ways my job has changed because of COVID-19:
Increase in Virtual Visits
In order to reduce the risk of exposure to families and staff, our team has been working hard to convert as many appointments as possible to telehealth visits. This way, families can show up to their appointments from the comfort of their own home rather than traveling to our clinic. We use a platform that allows us to video chat with patients and their families. Even our language interpreters are able to join the chat remotely. Since more of my appointments are being completed virtually, I have had to adjust how I gather a history, perform an assessment, and put together a plan with my patients.
Limiting In-Person Appointments
Another way we are trying to do our part to flatten the curve is to minimize the number of in-person appointments every day. For the most part, the only patients that we see in person are coming to our clinic for medically urgent evaluations, pre-operative appointments for non-elective surgeries, or post-operative appointments in which it is crucial that we are conducting thorough neurological assessments that are not as feasible over video chat. Furthermore, we are limiting the number of caregivers that are able to enter the clinic with patients. As a result, the clinic has been quieter lately!
Screening Patients, Caregivers, and Staff
In addition, our hospital has taken additional measures to prevent transmission by screening anyone that steps into the clinic. Upon entry, patients, caregivers, and staff are 1) asked to wash their hands with hand sanitizer, 2) screened for possible symptoms, and 3) provided with a mask to wear while in the clinic. I am monitoring myself daily for symptoms and do my best to be diligent about hand hygiene, physical distancing, and proper mask donning and doffing.
The need for timely and evidence-based healthcare doesn’t stop during a pandemic! These are just a few ways that my clinic is working to keep everyone safe and healthy while also ensuring that we are providing our patients and their families with the excellent care they deserve. Healthcare facilities throughout the world have been making a variety of adjustments to promote the safety and well-being of their patients and staff. It is interesting to see how healthcare is evolving in response to this pandemic. As some parts of the country are starting to “open up,” I am curious to see how healthcare facilities respond.
Before I close, I would just like to express my gratitude for the healthcare professionals out there caring directly for patients with COVID-19. Thank you for all that you are doing. You deserve all of the respect and PPE; I hope that you are staying safe.